What Do You Teach Your Kids About Religion?


I came across an article today about what people teach their kids about religion. So what are you (or will you) teaching your kids about religion?

I would like to teach my kids about the history and beliefs of the worlds major religions. I want them to know where the religions came from and when they were started, as well as the most prominent beliefs held by the religions followers. I want them to feel safe to talk about religion with their peers, and I want them to know about the possible beliefs that their peers may hold before they start school. I’d also like to teach them the religious myths from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt as well as First Nations tribes. Possibly others as well, but it all depends on what we have time for. I loved hearing ancient myths as a kid, and I want my children to enjoy them as well.

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17 responses to “What Do You Teach Your Kids About Religion?

    • hessianwithteeth

      While I can understand angst around humanity and the great ills we as a species do and have done. Comments such as this are not constructive and do not belong on this blog.

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      • kisboros1

        The bitter truth is better than a sweet lie. I never lie. You wanted to hear something sweet and untruthful that does not kick you out of your comfort zone where you keep yourself safe from reality. Delete my comment then, and lull yourself into the lies you surround yourself with. Peace out. PS Deep down you know I’m right, you just don’t want to see it.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          There is far more good in humanity then evil, in a net sense. The trick is breaking down barriers of tribalism not just beyond our “tribe” but outside of humanity. The larger the bubble of empathy the better. And if we look at the trends we see humanity become more empathetic, less violent, and ever more future thinking. Obviously we have a long way to go, but wallowing in pity and shame has never been productive, and history tell a story of progression towards something better, not worse. Quite likely because we all do better when you aid in making everyone lives around us better.

          Feel free to hold on to your Nihilism that is your choice, but I plan improving the world bit by bit to take into account the good and the bad, and focus primarily on the problems I can have a positive outcome on. Get enough of the 7 billion people on this planet thinking like that and imagine what you can accomplish.

          I did not delete your comment because it made me uncomfortable, but because I thought it was highly unproductive and angst, and this blog has some some (if arbitrary!) standards, now that said. It is not the case that I believe you, perhaps a younger me might have given you more credit, but some meta physics and ethical theory later and your stop caring about Nihilism. Humans are no cancer we are a highly successful species causing a mass extinction, and altering the worlds climate. Cyanobacteria where the first to do that a couple billion years ago when they introduced oxygen into the atmosphere which cause an extinction event and atmospheric changes that puts our meddling with CO2 and forest clearing to “shame.”

          It’s a question of perspective. Now does that mean I think our current environmental course is acceptable? Of course not we as a species are being stupid. That said is a problem, but unlike cyanobacteria we can undo much of the damage we wrought, but regardless of what happens our time on this planets will not ever succeed in killing all life. We’ll just be a powerful selective pressure.

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  • Dale F. Coye

    My kids went to Waldorf Schools, who do a great job of doing just what you suggest. Starting in 3rd grade they learn about the stories from the Old Testament, then 4th grade are the Norse myths, 5th is the Greeks and Romans, and so on. It works. I also think what’s missing in the discussion about religion too often is the word “mystery”. There are mysteries in the world and where detectives and scientists set out to find answers to them, there are some mysteries that defy that, mysteries that we are caught up in, that you just have to accept as part of the wonder of life (and death…and being human). This is a thought that comes from the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel. I would call this kind of mystery “spiritual”.

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    • equippedcat

      If it worked, then it seem to work. I hope the first step was a study on what is belief and religion in general. I don’t know which would be the better next step, either an overview of each system and then more depth about each, or just investigate each in turn.

      Out of curiosity, did they ever get into the stories from the New Testament? How about the Asian and Indian belief systems?

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  • crazymommy10

    This is a hard one for us. While we are both a combo of agnostic/atheist, both of our families are practicing (more or less) catholics. I want to teach my girls about different religions, while still letting them know what I think about organized religion overall. Also, I was raised Catholic, so there’s a large dose of Catholic guilt heaped in when I explain what I think to my children.

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  • equippedcat

    Your approach is wise. Children need to be familiar with the concept of religion, as well as the religions they are likely to come into contact with. Telling them history is good. Describing common beliefs as things that some people believe without being able to prove them will provide them with a good basis. The goal is for them to be “thinkers”, not “followers”. To develop their own view rather than blindly accepting someone else’s. To be able to interact with believers of whatever in a non-confrontational manner. To reject that which is forced on them without substantiation. And when they do develop a system of belief, that it be treated as a belief rather than a “universal truth”.

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  • Jennrvt

    I feel like I would allow them to be exposed to all kinds of stories, etc without teaching it as correct (or not correct). When they are old enough, I would encourage them to ask questions and gather information so they can come to their own conclusions, without judgement from me once they do so.

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  • sorayajan

    Because of my not so wonderful experience with religion, I’ve somewhat decided not to teach my children about one particular religion as the only one that is acceptable or right. I don’t intend to force religion down their throats, but to let them seek it out on their own if they so desire. Whatever they find, they find, as long as it isn’t harming them or anyone else.

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  • ubi dubium

    We did exactly what you suggest, teach our kids about religion. We started with Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology, before teaching the bible stories. Preachy gifts from the Fundie uncle became opportunities for discussion about what different people believe. It’s like a vaccine, carefully controlled doses of limited quantities of religion early in life to prevent catching a bad case of it later. It worked too, we never specifically told our children not to believe in a god, but they are now both thoroughly atheist.

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  • Prismal Liferie

    I don’t have children of my own, and I suspect I’ll never have them. But, I have thought about this quite a bit. It is my belief that all children should understand, firstly, that life exists in diverse forms in the universe, and that it may all be, inevitably, interconnected. Secondly, it is essential for them to know there is a source of creation for the universe, that many cultures along the world have called it differently, and that each person may perceive it differently; history of world religions and cultures would go into this, as well as respect for the beliefs of others. It is still good to call that source God, and to explain what this word means; calling the source unto you, which is nothing but accepting everything in life as an extension of that source. On that note, children should be able to understand there is a cycle to life, and that death is a part of this cycle as a transformation of energy. I do not consider a myth of heaven and hell necessary, for there is no tangible proof of either one. However, the possibility of an afterlife is in the collective thought, and should therefore be learned by children, but only as a possibility, not as a fact. Lastly, it is important for children to understand and acknowledge the scientific explanations given for every phenomenon religion tries to express.
    This is what I would teach my children, were I to be granted the opportunity of motherhood. I believe in experiential learning, and so would not instill a set of beliefs, but rather let them choose their own. From there on, my job would be to work on respecting their decision, so that my children learn to respect the beliefs of others.

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  • graphicmatrix

    For me the jury is still out. With religion tied so closely to politics it is hard to separate the two into separate entities. So for me it often becomes a political discussion, a history discussion, and less of a spiritual one. Values I find are totally independent of religion…that is something that is embraced on a personal level. While religious teachers frequently speak of them they are seldom followed by an entire religious group. I also find that the spiritual aspect is a very personal one as well, not something that is universally felt or experienced by any religious group. hmmmmmmm What do we teach our kids about religion when they see the world around them?

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  • hessiafae

    I talk to my kids about varying religions and belief systems. I explain that, though these stories should not be automatically accepted as fact, they are sometimes based on true events, and that much can be learned from folklore. I am very careful not to indoctrinate. We live in the Bible Belt, so I emphasize that while their friends who practice religion are probably Christians, other religions and lack thereof are valid. Morals and values should come from within and be developed through observation and experience, not learned and recited by rote from a book!

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  • sirgb

    World’s TOP 1. topic.

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  • tastehitch

    It’s funny, the wife and I have discussed this recently. I’m an out and out atheist (she’s more agnostic) and I want my son to see religion for the nonsense that it is.

    However, I also want him to tolerant of others. It’s hard to hold the seemingly mutually exclusive views that someone is a credulous fool as well as being a quite nice guy as an adult, let alone as a child.

    I also want him to think his own thoughts and form his own views – not just parrot mine.

    I suppose I will just have to explain, calmly and logically, why I don’t believe and why some people do. If he grows to follow a religion then I will have to deal with that myself.

    I think not imposing belief (or a lack of it) on a child may well be one of the more challenging things to do as a parent.

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